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topic Playboys of the Western World

30th October 1970
Page 44
Page 44, 30th October 1970 — topic Playboys of the Western World
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

by Janus

44100 doubt you will be after hearing," 174 said Maggie's brother Cromwell, with a 'dubious imitation of an Irish accent, "about the boys from the Ould Counthry who have found the crock of gold at the end of the motorway."

"You are merely jealous," said Maggie, "because nobody is prepared to pay you £300 a week."

"I have done a fair bit of earth moving in my time in the back garden," said Cromwell, "and nobody so far has paid me anything."

"Your time is old-fashioned," I said. "We live in an entirely new time—something to do with AETR and the 24-hour clock."

"And decimalization and the Common Market, I suppose?" said Cromwell.

"That as well, " I agreed. "According to reports, some of these people work five and a half or six days on the site, spend the evenings and what is left of the weekend in maintaining their vehicles, and still find time for evenings on the town plus a quiet family life."

Li ERE is no need to bring Europe

into the discussion," said Cromwell.

"It is the little people from across the Irish Sea that are working their magic. They at any rate are on call 24 hours a day. You must have heard stories about the way in which all the vehicles vanish without trace as soon as the man from the Ministry sets foot on the site."

"What would happen if he caught them?" asked Maggie.

"There may be cases," I replied, "where the vehicles are not adequately licensed or properly maintained, or where the drivers are working too many hours, or not keeping records, or overloading their vehicles."

"Or it could even happen," said Cromwell, "that the reporters are not entirely accurate with their facts and figures. Every driver they interview seems to boast of having his own accountant, but it is not the accountant who supplies the information. So that in the end it may just turn out to be fairy gold and not real money."

THERE seem likely to be some prosecutions," I said. "But it does not follow that everybody concerned is breaking the law. It is possible to do a hard day's work and still keep within the regulations. And there are what the ill-disposed would call loopholes, such as the greater freedom permitted when most of the driving is on the site rather than on a public road."

"It is with a motorway contract still to be concluded," said Cromwell, "that we shall see more clearly what is happening. At the moment it may seem puzzling that the Ministry of Transport, who are ultimately responsible for building the roads, are also having to prosecute the people who are doing the work."

"You mean that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing?" said Maggie.

"Not at all," said Cromwell. "The policy lines are clear enough now that we have more information, The Ministry of Transport now becomes part of the Department of the Environment."

OR once I am ahead of you," said Maggie. "The head of this new Department is a man with the ominous name of Walker—one might just as well appoint the chairman of the Pedestrians Association and have done with it. You mean that when the new motorway starts there will be such a scandal about the lorries that he will have an excuse to stop the road programme altogether?"

"Ingenious but wrong-headed," said Cromwell. "In his remarks since taking office Mr Walker may have seemed more than usually friendly towards the railways, but he will not allow the roads to be neglected. 'What I had in mind was his general responsibility for the environment and his emphasis on a regional strategy."

"He wishes to preserve our heritage," I said, "without pursuing what he has called a narrow conservationist policy." "Precisely," said Cromwell. "And one aspect of our heritage which he fancies may be in danger of disappearing is the cowboy. What with operators' licensing, annual testing, weighing and measuring, and so on, the Government believe that the bad operator is on the way to extinction."

"They may be a little optimistic," I said.

"There is still the danger," said Cromwell. "It would be a pity if the cowboy were allowed to die out with so much of our other wild life. So what better plan could there be than for the responsible Department to provide from within their own resources a sanctuary where he would be free to carry on undisturbed by the destroying effect of our too repressive civilization?"

"At least that is a kindly thought," said Maggie. "My paper the other day quoted a driver as saying 'I love my lorry. Each night I kiss it befoie going to sleep.' You would

suppose that a man who feels like that would be happy in the kind of place yot describe."

" THERWISE he will be hounded,ou1

of existence, " I said. "There is already news that his enemies art cornbining against him. Only the other da3 there was a statement from a body, new te me, called the Committee for Environmenta Conservation and apparently determined tt be known as CoEnCo. Among other things it is co-ordinating the protests again& proposals for raising the weight limits or lorries."

"Powerful interests lurk behind tla scenes," said Cromwell. "The historic meeting between CoEnCo and tilt Pedestrians Association took place as you might have guessed, at tla Society of Chiropodists. All-out suppor may be expected also at any time from du makers of boots and shoes, bootlaces leather, shoe polish and foot salve."

. "Road transport is very much on till defensive," I said. "For every driver wilt kisses his lorry there are many thousands a people who would treat it very differently i: they had the chance. Operators mus sometimes believe themselves to be at wai with the community; and the first step k war is to camouflage the vehicles."

OT as easy as it may seem," saic Cromwell. "There has been a lot cc talk recently about lorry parks Everybody thinks them a good idea, bui nobody wants them in his district. As a consequence, even representatives of the road transport industry have been on record as saying that the parks should be well away from the centres of population so thal they will not cause a nuisance. The trouble is that the idyllic spots most suitable for the lorries are the least suitable for the traffic."

"There is also a money problem," I said "The general opinion seems to be that the operators and not the local authorities should pay for the parks."

"Quite right, too," said Maggie. "Why should we have to put up with noisy, smelly lorries and also subsidize them?"

"It is strange," said Cromwell, "that nobody ever says this kind of thing aboul buses, although I suppose they car be as offensive to the eye, ear and .nose if they tried hard enough. There is a serious discussion going on now intc the future of London Transport. One of the points at issue is the possibility of allowing the public to use the transport system without charge. This would cost the ratepayer a good bit more than a few lorry parks."

"But we should all benefit because we use London Transport," said Maggie.

"The Pedestrians Association and it: supporters would argue that it does you much more good to walk," said Cromwell. "Although, when I come to think of it, I can never remember them making thai particular point. Their ultimate aim seems tc be to let all the pedestrians ride in buses and to make all the good carriers tote their loads on foot."

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